» Living Will Forms (Advance Directives) | Medical POA

Living Will Forms (Advance Directives) | Medical POA

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A Living Will, also known as an “Advance Directive”, allows a person to state their end-of-life medical treatment and care. This document does not hold any bearings after death, it solely directs physicians to care for a person based on what is stated in their Living Will, especially with issues such as DNR (do not resuscitate). Without this document, it’s difficult to judge an ill or incapacitated person’s end-of-life wishes.

Medical Power of Attorney – Allows a person to select an “Agent” to make health care decisions when the patient cannot speak for themselves (due to surgery, incapacitation, or incompetency).

By State

Table of Contents

How to Make a Living Will

A living will can be created by an individual within one (1) day. It does not need to be made with an attorney or filed with a government office. All that is required is for the Principal (the patient) to enter their end-of-life treatment options and have the living will signed in the presence of a notary public and/or witnesses (depending on State Laws).

Step 1 – Decide Your Treatment Options

Take a moment to reflect on what course of action you would like to take in the event for certain medical events that could occur such as:

  • Severe Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Dementia
  • a Vegetative State
  • a Coma
  • Incapacitated

Depending on your individual preference would would you like to have the medical staff to do everything possible to keep your alive? Or, would you rather die peacefully if you cannot breathe or eat on your own?

These are questions that should be discussed between you and your family so that in the unfortunate event this should happen you and your family will be ready. After careful discussion, the final decisions you make should be reflected in the document.

Step 2 – Choose Your End-of-Life Decisions

If there are any other decisions besides medical care that you would like such as a priest or religious person saying your last rights or specific funeral plans you would like to make it is best to have written to be carried out by your family.

Step 3 – Select a Health Care Agent (Optional)

Most living wills have the option of adding a health care agent to carry out the patient’s intended wishes. This is helpful in the event that there is a gray area where maybe the agent selected feels there is a good chance for survival and will opt against a decision made in the living will. Otherwise the Principal can choose to neglect this portion of the document and have doctors and medical staff specifically adhere to what is written in the living will.

Step 4 – Signing the Form

The patient will be required to sign the document and be witnessed, notarized, or both depending on the the following State list:

  • AL – 2 or more Witnesses (§ 22-8A-4)
  • AK – 2 Witnesses or Notary (§ 13.52.010)
  • AZ  – 1 Witness or Notary (§ 36-3282)
  • AR – 2 Witnesses (§ 20-17-202)
  • CA – 2 Witness or Notary (§ 4673)
  • CO –
  • CT
  • DE
  • FL
  • GA
  • HI
  • ID
  • IL
  • IN
  • IA
  • KS
  • KY
  • LA
  • ME
  • MD
  • MA
  • MI
  • MN
  • MS
  • MO
  • MT
  • NE
  • NV
  • NH
  • NJ
  • NM
  • NY
  • NC
  • ND
  • OH
  • OK
  • OR
  • PA
  • RI
  • SC
  • SD
  • TN
  • TX
  • UT
  • VT
  • VA
  • WA
  • WV
  • WI
  • WY

What is a Living Will?

A Living Will is a document used to describe how medical decisions should be made when certain health related issues arise, especially when a person is dealing with a life-threatening condition. For example, should a person remain on life support if they have fallen into an irreversible vegetative state? That question can easily be answered by having a Living Will, as it will clearly state whether or not that person wishes to resume on life support in that situation.

Although most commonly related with the elderly, anyone over the age of 18 should have a Living Will, as unfortunate occurrences can happen to anybody. When a person falls seriously ill without a Living Will, painful arguments can arise amongst family and loved ones when deciding on an outcome.

A Living Will should address these 3 topics, as they are the most common and difficult issues that arise during a person’s life-ending condition:

  • Life Support
  • Life-Sustaining Treatment
  • End of Life Wishes

Securing an Agent

An agent is someone who carries out the wishes stated in your Living Will or Power of Attorney. A good candidate for an agent could be a family member or a close friend. A daughter or son for example would be a good choice, as they are expected to outlive your life. An agent can not be your physician or anyone that directly administers health care to you. As your agent, this person must follow the instructions set out in your document and can also make judgement decisions when uncertain situations arise.

After completion of your Living Will, copies should be delivered to your agent, physician and anyone directly involved with your estate plan. Make sure to update your Living Will if your agent changes or becomes unavailable to serve.

An agent can also be referred to as the following:

  • Attorney-in-Fact
  • Health Care Proxy
  • Surrogate

Do I Need a Living Will?

Both a Medical Power of Attorney and a Living Will act in the same way in that both cater towards a person’s medical wishes. A Living Will specifically handles end-of-life health care situations whereas a medical power of attorney covers a broad range of health care decisions and only goes into effect when a person becomes incapacitated (unable to think for themselves).

If you desire to have more control over your medical treatment in the event you are unable to make them for yourself, you will need to create a medical power of attorney. Just like a Living Will, you will need to select an agent who will behold your medical wishes and makes certain that those wishes are carried out successfully. Completing both a living will and a medical power of attorney form are recommended.

Laws By State

How to Write a Living Will

Step 1 – Download Your Living Will

Download in Adobe PDF, Microsoft Word (.docx), or Open Document Text (.odt).

Step 2 – Health Care Directive

This document combines a Health Care Directive, which is your Living Will, along with a Medical Power of Attorney to appoint an agent. If you wish to only use the Medical Power of Attorney, strike an X through this section. In our example, we are using the Living Will as seen below.


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